Tonight's fight has familiar ring for Rahman

He faces lefty Sanders

Joppy takes on Ruvalcaba

Boxing

May 20, 2000|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Sometime after 11 tonight, Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman will step into the same Atlantic City boxing ring he was literally knocked out of in early November.

Russia's Oleg Maskaev (19-2, 14 knockouts), the man whose right hand punched Rahman through the ropes and nearly into the laps of ringside HBO commentators, also will step into that same ring - but it won't be against Rahman.

Rahman (32-2, 26) will take on South Africa's World Boxing Union champion, Corrie Sanders, (36-1, 26) in a 12-round title bout on the undercard of Maskaev's 10-round fight against hard-hitting Detroiter Derrick Jefferson (22-1, 18). The fights are part of a heavyweight double feature on HBO's Boxing After Dark series.

The event, promoted by Cedric Kushner, will take place at Bally's Park Place, site of Jefferson's sixth-round knockout of Maurice "Mo-Bettah" Harris on the undercard of Maskaev's eighth-round KO of Rahman in their Nov. 6 main event.

William Joppy (29-1-1, 22 KOs) of Silver Spring will attempt to defend his World Boxing Association middleweight crown tonight against No. 1 contender Rito Ruvalcaba (27-2, 24) in a Showtime televised bout in Tunica, Miss.

Rahman's fight with the 34-year-old, 6-foot-4 southpaw Sanders is viewed as a crossroads for Rahman, coming off a 10-round decision over journeyman Marion Wilson.

Rahman, ranked No. 19 by the World Boxing Council, has been in seclusion as part of his preparation for Sanders, according to manager Stan Hoffman.

"By fight time, he'll have been here about five weeks in an Ocean City apartment with no phone, no family or friends reaching him," Hoffman said from his beachside New Jersey residence.

Rahman's lack of stamina was costly in his losses to Maskaev and David Tua, the latter in December of 1998. Rahman was ahead in both fights before being stopped late.

"We've brought in Bruce Blair, a New York-based conditioner ," Hoffman said. "It's been push-ups, sprints in timed intervals, four-minute rounds."

Hoffman's partner - Steve Nelson - is with Joppy, who is campaigning for a shot at Washington-based World Boxing Council king Keith Holmes or junior middleweight champ Felix Trinidad.

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